In a letter sent last week to administration officials and Congress, IDFA and 39 other business groups said any U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union must be comprehensive and include agricultural issues. The coalition's Open Letter on Transatlantic Trade came in reaction to recent recommendations from transatlantic task forces to bypass difficult issues and concentrate on areas that will provide positive results.
The coalition stressed the need for a "single-undertaking" approach, saying it's vital to assure that the EU accepts international standards and science-based risk assessments as an important part of the bilateral partnership.
"Had the U.S. embarked on any of its existing FTAs using the 'do what we can, when we can' approach proposed in these papers, it would not have in place the comprehensive agreements it has today," the coalition said. "Instead, we would have faced the prospect of pressure to exclude large swaths of a country's agricultural sector and undermined government's leverage to argue in favor of a comprehensive undertaking."
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
The letter mentioned current EU restrictions on U.S. products in the form of sanitary and phytosanitary measures as an example of issues that need to be resolved as part of the overall trade agenda between the two countries.
The coalition noted other important reasons for keeping agriculture issues in the pact. Both the United States and EU want the agreement to be structured in a way that will allow countries they already have FTAs with, such as Korea, to dock with the U.S.-EU pact to create agreements that are more global in scope. A comprehensive approach also would align with the high standards currently being pursued in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
For more information, contact John Kelly, IDFA manager of international affairs, at email@example.com.